How to Deal With an Alcoholic Child

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Are you one of many parents dealing with an alcoholic child? It is often joked that parenthood is not for the weak. And while many may laugh upon hearing that, there is an enormous amount of truth to that statement. Being a parent comes with massive responsibility, but also many successes. Sometimes, though, parents find themselves in a situation where their child has gone down the wrong path and is struggling with addiction. In this article, you will learn how to deal with an alcoholic child and the various coping mechanisms available.

Watching anyone you love go through active addiction can rip your heart out. It can make you equally as resentful as it does sad. But when the person with the addiction is your own flesh and blood, the pain, anger, frustration, panic, and disbelief can become immeasurable. 

In the United States alone, more than 15 million people are addicted to alcohol. Those 15 million people represent 15 million+ families who are watching on as they grapple with this disease. If your child is an alcoholic, you know the hurt that comes along with this disease. And while there are many aspects of alcoholism ranging from trying to get your child treatment to figuring out how to help them when they are under the influence, one of the most important things to focus on are your own personal coping skills. Coping skills can make or break you during this tumultuous time, which is why it is imperative to figure out healthy ways to deal with an alcoholic child. 

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Is My Child An Alcoholic?

Alcoholism is a severe issue that is identified by a powerful longing for alcohol and being unable to reduce or control alcoholic intake, in spite of the negative implications. There are numerous indications that could suggest that your child is dealing with alcoholism. These include:

Increased Alcohol Consumption

If you notice your child drinking more often or in larger quantities, this could be a sign of an underlying problem and should not be taken lightly. Increased alcohol consumption can lead to a number of health and social issues and can even impede academic performance. If your child is exhibiting signs of increased alcohol consumption, it is important to get them help as soon as possible.

Difficulty Controlling Use

Difficulty controlling or reducing alcohol use is a common sign of an alcohol use disorder. If your child is unable to stop or reduce their consumption, despite attempting to do so, this is a red flag that they may be struggling with this disorder. It is important to talk to your child about their alcohol consumption and provide support for them as needed.

Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences

If your child is continuing to drink despite negative consequences, such as job loss, financial problems, or strained relationships, this is a sign of a serious problem and help should be sought immediately. Continued use despite these negative consequences is indicative of an addiction, which can have severe and long-lasting effects on your child’s physical and mental health. Seeking treatment through therapy or an addiction program can help your child reduce their alcohol consumption and get back on track.

Neglecting Responsibilities

Neglecting responsibilities is a key indicator of an alcohol use disorder, and should not be overlooked. Parents should take special attention to any changes in their child’s behavior that could indicate they are struggling with alcohol. This can include missing school or work, poor academic or job performance, or changes in their social circles. If parents suspect their child is having an issue with alcohol, they should reach out to a professional for help.

Changes in Behavior

It is important to be aware of any changes in behavior that your child may be exhibiting. These could be signs of irritability, mood swings, or even them withdrawing from friends and family. Such changes could indicate that your child is using alcohol and it is important to address this as soon as possible. Taking note of any changes in behavior can help lead to a healthy and successful future for your child.

It is critical to bear in mind that these indications could also be suggestive of other problems, so it is essential to look for expert assistance to get an accurate diagnosis and entry into a treatment program. If you think your child is suffering from alcohol addiction, then it is crucial to get help immediately. When given the right support, people can conquer alcoholism and retake control of their lives.

How to Deal With an Alcoholic Child 

You cannot force your child into recovery no matter how much you may want to. Recovering from alcoholism takes internal drive that comes directly from the person in recovery. So while you can try to get your child the help they need, they will be the ones who need to put in the work to become and remain sober. You do not need to sit around and wait for your child to get moving on the road to recovery, though. There are ways that you can cope with your alcoholic child and the negative consequences that come with their addicted behaviors. 

Get support — for you!

It can seem crazy and backwards to seek out help when you are not the one struggling with alcoholism, but it is vital. Addiction is a family disease, meaning that if you do not keep your side of the street clean, you can get swept up into the chaos of alcoholism. So, work on developing a strong foundation to stand on. You can do this by attending local support group meetings, such as those offered through Al-Anon. Spend time sharing your feelings and experiences with others in the group and ensure that you are actively listening to others share, too. Not only can you learn a great deal about coping with an alcoholic child, but you can also start to develop a support system of others who truly understand. 

Encourage family counseling 

Family counseling can bring together members of families who are being impacted by alcoholism and other types of addictions. Of course, it is ideal if your alcoholic child attends family counseling sessions with you and the rest of your immediate family, but even if they don’t, attending these sessions is critical. Through family counseling, you and your family can learn how to recognize toxic behaviors (such as enabling and lying) and developing ways to steer clear of them. You can build a stronger level of communication among one another, strengthen the bond of the family during a time when many families fall apart. When you are all on the same page, you can set strict boundaries, form a cohesive response to your child’s alcoholism, and move forward in as healthy of a manner as possible. 

Set boundaries

As just mentioned, one of the most important things you can do when coping with an alcoholic child is to set boundaries. Take some time to think about what your own personal boundaries are. Review what the collective boundaries of other family members might be and begin working on setting them.

An example of a common boundary set by parents of alcoholic children is not allowing them to be at their house when they are drunk. In some cases, parents take it a step further and tell their alcoholic child that they are not allowed at their house unless they are fully sober. Boundaries are not always meant to be comfortable, rather they are meant to help preserve the wellbeing of you and your family. So, consider what boundaries are appropriate for you and enforce them. Be sure to uphold your boundaries, or else your child will quickly learn that they can keep crossing them. 

Have a plan for treatment 

Spend time researching into different treatment programs both local and out-of-state. Find out what types of services they offer, if they accept insurance, and how many beds they typically have open at a time. Do not be shy about picking up the phone and speaking to an admissions specialist at a treatment center you want to know more about. They are there specifically to answer all of your questions. Start developing an action plan so that if your alcoholic child asks for help, all you need to do is make the call. When your child asks for help is not the time to start this process — be proactive in your support by knowing what steps to follow if and when you are called on. 

Practice good self-care

If you are a parent, your instinct is to put your child and their needs before yours. But, in a situation like this where your child is wrapped up in a toxic disease, it is vital that you practice good self-care. This means ensuring you are fulfilling your needs and wants while also doing things that are soothing for the soul. Common ways to practice self-care include yoga, picking up a hobby, exercising well, cooking healthy food, seeing a therapist regularly, and so on. Whatever it is that is going to help you feel cared for is what you should strive to do during this time. 

Why Treatment for Alcohol Addiction is Important

It is essential to seek treatment for alcoholism to improve one’s overall health and well-being. Alcoholism is a long-term illness that can have grave physical and mental health effects, like liver injury, heart disease, augmented risk of cancer, depression, and anxiety. Treatment for alcoholism gives individuals the assistance and resources they need to beat the disorder, enhance their physical and mental health, and reestablish their lives.

Rehabilitation programs use a thorough approach to treatment, attending not just to the physical side of addiction, but also the mental and emotional parts. This comprises of individual and group counseling, as well as holistic techniques like meditation and yoga. Rehab also offers people the assistance and responsibility they need to conquer addiction, such as access to peer support, regular drug testing, and extended aftercare programs.

To decrease the possibility of a relapse and promote long-term recovery, therapeutic care is critical. With the proper help and supplies, those receiving treatment can discover new techniques of managing stress, establish a support system for themselves, and confront the difficulties that caused their addiction. This will result in a higher quality of life, more positive relationships with those close to them, and a greater feeling of satisfaction and achievement.

alcoholic child

Treatment for an Alcoholic Child in Los Angeles

Do not hesitate to reach out to us if your child needs help. Our team of professionals are experienced on how to deal with an alcoholic child. We understand how upsetting it is to see your child struggle this way. The good news is that there is help. Call us right now and visit our admissions page so we can begin helping you and your child today.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

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Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

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Eric Chaghouri, MD


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Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

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Clients and Professionals Share Their Experience

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